New Delhi: An infuriated Congress hit out at BJP on Wednesday as 8 out of its 11 MLAs in Goa jumped ship. Calling it ‘Operation Kichad’, the Congress alleged that the BJP fast-tracked the crossing over of the MLAs as it felt threatened by the success of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
In a major blow to Congress in Goa, eight MLAs, including former chief minister Digambar Kamat, joined the ruling BJP.
Left with just three MLAs in the 40-member Assembly, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said, “Operation Kichad of BJP in Goa has been fast-tracked because of the visible success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. BJP is nervous,”
“A daily dose of diversion & disinformation is handed out to undermine the Yatra. We remain undeterred. We will overcome these dirty tricks of the BJP,” he said.
Speaking on similar lines, Congress leader Pawan Khera alleged the BJP, rattled by the Bharat Jodo Yatra, had organised “Operation Kichad (muck)” in the coastal state. “Once again it has been proven that the BJP can only break,” the Congress’ communication department head said in a tweet in Hindi.
“Those who are not able to support this difficult journey of uniting India, fearing the threats of BJP, cross over to those who break… (they) should understand that India is watching,” he added.
The saffron party has been frequently accused by Congress and other opposition parties of poaching legislators. The Opposition has termed the BJP’s attempt to destablise state governments as ‘Operation Lotus’. Lotus is the BJP’s poll symbol.
On being asked about the developments in Goa and whether the Congress was caught off-guard, party spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the party was not clueless, but one cannot have a dialogue with people who compromise their values beyond a point. “I think it is absolutely erroneous for anybody to believe that we did not know,” she told reporters at a press conference at AICC headquarters here.
Those MLAs who crossed over had sought votes from people against the Bharatiya Janata Party, she said.
“With what face are you joining BJP today? Is there a thing as ideology or not,” Shrinate said.
“My own belief is that doing opposition politics is a very difficult task today, especially for those people who get scared of agencies and get carried away by greed,” she added.
If that is not the case then one fights as thousands, lakhs, crores of people are doing in this country, Shrinate said.
The eight MLAs joined the BJP in the presence of Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and state BJP chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade. In a similar move in July 2019, 10 Congress MLAs had switched over to the BJP in Goa.
The BJP retained power in the coastal state after the assembly elections in March this year. It has 20 MLAs in the Assembly, while the Congress’ strength will be depleted from 11 to three.
The eight Congress MLAs — Kamat, Michael Lobo, Delilah Lobo, Rajesh Phaldesai, Kedar Naik, Sankalp Amonkar, Aleixo Sequeira and Rudolf Fernandes — were seen interacting with Sawant in a viral photo hours ahead of formally joining the BJP.
In January, they had taken the loyalty pledge at a temple, church and dargah in Goa ahead of the elections.
(With PTI inputs)